A former Virginia Tech soccer player is suing the team's head coach. Kiersten Hening has filed a federal lawsuit against Charles "Chugger" Adair, alleging that he engaged in a "campaign of abuse and retaliation” against Hening after refusing to kneel before games this season, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“Hening’s stance was costly — too costly,” the lawsuit states which was filed on March 3. “Her coach dislikes Hening’s political views. Because she refused to kneel, he benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team.” The suit also states Adair should be ordered to “undergo First Amendment training” and to have Hening reinstated on the team. She is also seeking awards for compensatory, punitive and nominal damages and costs associated with the case.
During the opening match of the 2020 season against the University of Virginia, Hening and another player stood during the national anthem while the rest of the team took a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The suit claims that Hening “supports social justice and believes black lives matter,” but “does not support the BLM organization.”
The lawsuit states that during halftime of the season opener, “Coach Adair berated Hening for her stance. He singled her out and verbally attacked her, pointing a finger directly in her face. He denounced Hening for ‘bitching and moaning,’ for being selfish and individualistic, and for ‘doing her own thing.’” Adair allegedly targeted Hening instead of the other player who remained standing because that player was on scholarship and the parents threatened Adair to not "retaliate against their daughter for opposing (Black Lives Matter.)”
The suit claims that Adair singled out Hening during the next match against Clemson. After starting in 37 matches in her first two seasons, Hening was benched in the second and third match of the 2020 campaign, which led to her leaving the program.
“Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign. Hening did not want to leave,” the lawsuit reads. Adair is one of the more successful coaches in women's soccer. In 10 seasons at Virginia Tech, Adair is 126-62-20 and has led the Hokies to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including an appearance in the 2013 national semifinals.